Anca Tilea, Dr. Vahakn Shahinian and Ms. Nayiri Saghdejian with ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian at a reception in support of the ANCA’s youth empowerment programs.
The power and reach of the ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program continues to grow with the generous support of Vahan and Lucine Shahinian and their son, Dr. Vahakn Shahinian, who, along with the program’s founding father and daughter team, Apo and Nayiri Saghdejian, have donated more than $125,000 over the past year for the expansion of this unique public-policy career development program in the nation’s capital.
The Shahinian family’s commitment to youth and career development is rooted in a lifetime devoted to education, as exemplified by Vahan Shahinian, who served as a teacher and mentor to generations of students, including Apo Saghdejian. The vital work of the ANCA’s CGP in helping recent graduates explore careers in policy, politics, and media rests upon his solid educational foundation and reflects his family’s commitment to schools and lifetime learning.
“We have been following the progress of this program for many years and find that it is so important for the development of our youth and the advancement of Hai Tahd,” explained Vahan Shahinian. “I am so happy and proud to be able to support this program in honor of Apo’s late son, and I hope that more Armenians will join me in the advancement of this most worthy cause,” concluded Shahinian.
“The Shahinian family’s visionary generosity is a testament to their enduring devotion to helping Armenian American youth realize their potential in the American civic arena,” said Apo Saghdejian. “Their support represents a living tribute to Hovig’s memory, reflecting his commitment to the success of Armenians individually and the progress of Armenians collectively.”
With the vital support of the Shahinian and Saghdejian families and the leadership of Program Director Tereza Yerimyan, the ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program has been able to extend its outreach through personal visits and social media across the U.S., increasing awareness about the program and the unique career and internship opportunities it offers. With the summer of 2017 boasting the largest Leo Sarkisian and CGP internship class in its 30-year history, the ANCA will welcome the latest group of career fellows in early September. A 20-university tour is planned for the fall, which will feature group presentations and one-on-one engagement with potential program participants.
“The dedicated support of the Saghdejian and Shahinian families helps us reach out to more top university students and graduates than ever before,” said Yerimyan. “The combination of the ANCA’s career development resources and access to our network of seasoned professionals provides a springboard for success – a Washington, DC-based opportunity platform from which young Armenians can confidently and competently explore jobs in policy, politics, and media.”
The ANCA Capital Gateway Program, established in 2003, helps Armenian American college students and recent graduates from across the U.S. to pursue careers in public policy, through three month grants of free housing at the ANCA Aramian House, access to the ANCA network of contacts and resources, and hands-on training on how to find work in the governmental, political, policy, and media worlds.
The program was dedicated in honor of Hovig Apo Saghdejian, the 23-year-old student from Fresno, California whose life of community leadership and public service was cut short, in July of 2004, by a tragic car accident.
The Saghdejian family support for the Capital Gateway Program has long been a labor of love, beginning with the establishment of the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Memorial Fund in 2004, which raised well more than $50,000 for the program in just a few short months. Since then, family and friends have honored the memory of Hovig’s late mother, Rosine Saghdejian, who passed away in 2006, and Apo’s mother, Sona Saghdejian, who died in 2010, through additional contributions to the fund. With their most recent gifts of $50,000, the fund is now over $260,000. These funds will be held in perpetuity, with only the income being used to finance the participation of young Armenian Americans in the Gateway Program.
Hovig Apo Saghdejian: Inspirational Youth Leader and Community Activist
Hovig Apo Saghdejian was born on December 31, 1980, in Fresno, California. Early in life, Hovig became a member of the Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts, and he joined the ranks of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), contributing to the welfare of the Armenian American community and reinforcing his commitment to his Homeland.
He breathed life into the ideals of his youth by working to preserve and reinvent Armenian identity in America, while bringing a sense of optimism to the people of Armenia for a better future. As a volunteer with the Land and Culture Organization, Hovig traveled to Armenia during the summer of 2003 to work as a volunteer in Ayroum, developing infrastructure and self-sustainability for the impoverished population of this village. Beyond the value of the hard work that contributed significantly to the well being of the villagers, Hovig’s efforts helped bring hope to all he came in contact with that the future held better things for the people of Armenia. Commenting on his time in Ayroum, in a testimonial on the Land and Culture website, Hovig explained that, “I know that when I reflect back on this experience I will feel ecstatic about the work we accomplished, the things we saw, and the bonds we forged.”
Hovig attended Fresno City College, California State University of Fresno, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis on economics, philosophy and film studies. He performed his civic duties by being politically involved, not only with the ANCA, but also with Congressman George Radanovich and State Assemblymember Steve Samuelian on campaign and public policy projects.
Hovig enjoyed life, family, and friends. He had a very special bond with his parents, Apo and Rosine, and sister, Nayiri. He spent his spare time helping his mother at the Adult Day Care Center, and his father with the family business.